Jim McNab

Nondestructive testing (NDT) Subject Matter Expert, Oceaneering International

Jim McNab was awarded a Master of Science degree in Technology and Management in the Oil and Gas Industry from Aberdeen University. McNab has published three technical papers in BINDT (British Institute of Nondestructive Testing) Journal and was named a Ron Halmshaw Award winner for best paper and, more recently, won the Nemet award for the publication’s “Outstanding contribution to the practice of NDT” by an individual.

McNab invested 45 years within Oceaneering, solving challenging problems and developing industry-changing solutions.

Leadership: As a subject matter expert in radiation methods and nondestructive testing (NDT), McNab has been at the heart of NDT in the energy industry, particularly the oil and gas sector, for more than four decades. He has led the pursuit of new testing methods that improve safety, efficiency and cost reduction.

McNab is credited with conceiving the idea for a radiography system without the traditional disruption and danger to associated trades. He was instrumental in developing the Small Controlled Area Radiography System (SCAR), which is accepted as the only fail-safe industrial radiography system in the oil and gas industry.

While McNab has distinguished himself as an NDT leader in oil and gas, he did not confine his innovative ideas to the energy industry. Following publication of the Columbia Space Shuttle Accident Investigation Return to Flight activities, he shared his technology ideas with NASA, transferring his skillset to aerospace and taking his expertise to a new sector as a professional consultant. In this role, he worked to develop NDT solutions for on-wing inspection of leading edge panels. 

Accomplishments: McNab has changed the face of NDT in the oil and gas industry with the advances he has spearheaded. For more than 25 years, there was no reliable NDT method for detecting and measuring corrosion and corrosion under insulation (CUI) in the vicinity of pressurized plant and equipment using nucleonics for process control. Inspections were compromised by radiography, which can interfere with nucleonic sensors, causing a “trip” and the subsequent risk of unscheduled production shutdown and major process disruption. Historically, inspections around pressure vessels were either performed during scheduled shutdowns or done by running the plant “blind,” introducing safety risks. 

McNab tackled this problem head on, bringing his latest idea to fruition in March 2019. He and his Oceaneering team launched a new digital radiography solution, the Trip Avoidance X-ray Inspection (TAXI) system. McNab formulated the concept of this testing method, which assures the integrity of the pressure systems and facility piping in the vicinity of nucleonics, eliminating the need to defer inspections until a scheduled shutdown.

These projects are representative of the significant contributions in asset integrity management McNab has produced to improve inspection practices in the oil and gas industry. His work has created a fundamental change in inspection safety standards, introducing better methods that allow inspections to be carried out to the highest standards of quality and safety efficiency.

Perspective: “We all have a responsibility to bridge the transition from the current reliance we have on oil and gas energy sources, to the ideal situation of 100% renewable energy worldwide. At Oceaneering, our goal is to lower our carbon footprint as much as possible, and we are continually seeking opportunities to help our customers deliver and process hydrocarbons more efficiently with less environmental impact.”

For complete details on all the

2020 Energy Innovators honorees,

please visit hartenergy.com/energy-innovators.